Unbeknownst to me, Cliff submitted the video above to Stuller’s Fix My Bench contest. In all honesty, I am not sure how to spend the $1000 prize. All of my tools are 15 years old or older, so I am basking in the knowledge that the world is my oyster. Just thinkin’!
My 5 favorite tools are as follows:
- Raytech Magnetic finisher, purchased from Blaine Lewis in 2002
- Gravermax set up, also purchased from Blaine at the same time
- Rotating burr holders from Stuller
- Small GRS ball holder with swing arm, purchased at Bridge event
- SR Fordham with quick release from Stuller
As a child, my father had the most beautiful, organized, and functional tool bench in the universe. I would sit for hours watching him epoxy parts, build models, and repair household items. Watching his hands is something I remember most; his steady and sure workmanship fascinated me. At the same time, my mum was an artist. Her painted children’s furniture was featured in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog up until the time of her death in 1999. She and my sister were the jewelry addicts in our family – both very stylish, beautiful women. I found myself far more fascinated in how their jewelry was put together with no interest in wearing it.
So in short, cosmic convergence led me to a career in jewelry repair and design. My mother passed away and left me the means to reinvent myself artistically (not for an indefinite period but rather a nice comfortable kick start). At the same time, I was reacquainted with a high school friend who was in the wholesale/retail/commercial repair jewelry business. I also met the benchie that worked with him and was immediately smitten once I saw all his glorious tools. I enrolled in Kendall Art and Design’s adult jewelry fabrication classes to justify buying tools and absolutely loved it. Then, I attended the Blaine Lewis Bench program in Virginia Beach. Thus, a Bench Monkeyess was born.
I did my favorite design early on. A customer-turned-close-friend was going through her second battle with cancer. She wanted a pendant that expressed how she was going to feel when she came out on the other side. I found a piece of onyx, showed it to her, and we both immediately said, “Dancing Woman.” The pendant articulates the back and top and is balanced such that when my friend walks, the woman rocks slightly back and forth, as in a dance. Her hair was frazzled from the chemo, and that is why the pendant’s hair is spikey. Her birthday is in June, so the face is Moonstone. Looking at it now, I see the crudeness of the piece, illustrating how far I have come in 15 years.
I am a 60-year-old former massage therapist and single mom of three. I am now married to Cliff – the Lowell Dance Master and General Perpetuator of Mayhem. We have two grandchildren. Hunter is 7 and a born salesman and jewelry lover. At four years old, he stood in the middle of our showroom, dramatically swept his arm across his body and asked a group of women if they would like to see some “beeeeeutiful” jewelry. Our 2nd grandson is named after Cliff, and we call him Nugget. No sign of jewelry attachment yet, however, his mom, my daughter Amy, is in the geological engineering program at the local university. So it’s probably only a matter of time.
When Stuller was fine-tuning its Internet site back in 2002, I was a random frequent flyer, as we were new. I ordered pieces as well as tools just to see what they were, how they were assembled and how I could modify them. Cliff was getting really nervous about the expenditures when I received a call saying I had won $500 due to being chosen at random from Internet purchases. And so began our relationship with Stuller.
These days, I could not function without Stuller. The difference between st321 and st322 is forever etched in my brain. Stuller’s quality is unsurpassed; I have tried the others and always come back. They have accepted overdue returns, listened to me ramble about my kids and even cried a bit with me when I called after Hurricane Katrina to see if everyone was okay. The Bridge event just furthered my connection with Stuller. We will never be a big player with you, but we are loyal. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being that silent support system that enabled me to push forward into an area that was totally foreign to me. And of course, thanks for naming Cliff and I the winners of the Fix My Bench contest and the $1000 prize. How freaking cool is that???
Check out Cliff Yankovich’s blog post here, along with his excitement below after he learned about winning the contest!